1.) I DON’T WANT TO HANG OUT
Whenever I look at the current high school curriculum for Japan, I’m so happy that Canada gets a two-and-a-half month Summer vacation. Mind you, the Summer vacation for the Phantom Thieves (or, as I appear to any PS4 users, the Blocheads), is spent trying to rescue a reclusive, socially anxious teenage hacker girl from her own inner demons. Basically, me trying to socialize in Maplestory when I was a teenager.
But I got to say, the Phantom Thieves are massive hypocrites. Before you complete a palace, they constantly bog you down with requests to visit it. If you decline, they’re like “are you suuuuuuuuure this is the right move?” It makes me feel guilty for wanting to boost my confidants and see more of the story.
But here come the Phantom Thieves, asking if they can come over and we can spend the day reading, playing video games, eating ice cream, or visiting amusement parks. They, of course, request these hangouts during crucial preparation for invading Futaba’s palace. But the instant I walk up them physically and request spending time together, It’s all “oh no, but da palaz! We only wasted 5 days playing video games! That’s not too bad.”
I like the characters in this game, but they gotta learn to be a tad more self-aware. S’all I’m saying.
2.) Ann’s Friendship
Ann’s Confidant sticks out to me personally. Not because I can relate to her modeling or identity issues, but because I can’t relate to them. And, despite the fact that there’s a barrier between us, we can still be friends. I have lots of friends in real life who don’t share the same interests as I do, but we get along because we agree on a lot of things, we’re open with one another, or our presence makes each other happy.
I think Ann’s confidant rebels against the myth that people need the same interests to get along. I know plenty of people who play video games I don’t like, and I know plenty of people who hate gaming, but I’m close friends because of 1 million other factors. Ann reminds me of the great people in life who are just friendly and open. She’s a little airheaded and socially awkward, but that’s okay. None of the characters are perfect.
I’m still going to friendzone her.
3.) Mack on Makoto
Because I have found a much more suitable candidate for my waifu war. I was even able to fly over the initial threshold of level 3 knowledge to begin Makoto’s confidant because of all the diner studying I’ve accomplished.
Most of her confidant is even spent pretending to be her boyfriend and helping her help out others with their problems. Wait…I’m just a third wheel, aren’t I? No, it’s worse than that, I’m just an accomplice in some greater scheme. I help Makoto overcome her social issues by just tagging along and saying 3 lines in a whole day.
Actually, now that I say that out loud, it isn’t exactly a horrible situation. Makoto is cool, and I don’t mind chilling with her a lot. I look forward to maxing out her confidant and seeing how her story develops!
…I need level 5 charm to get past rank 6? My charm is only rank 2! What does this girl expect out of me? I’m just some frizzy hair dude with terrible posture, I’m not some really cool, charismatic guy. I’m a loser with a criminal record who only says the sarcastic comments. I’m myself!
4.) Hackers are Overpowered in Anything
Before you Futaba lovers sick your claws and DDOS my Minecraft server, I don’t hate Futaba’s character. In fact, I think she’s a fascinating look into social anxiety in the modern age. This is an issue i haven’t seen a Persona game tackle, and when it comes to mature topics, the series generally handles them with grace. Futaba is likeable, she has a rough past, but she tries her best to prevail in any situation. She provides a distinct charm to the Phantom Thieves that no other character does.
But It’s time to rant. Because, hacker characters in any modern piece of media are lazy plot resolutions. Is there a massive scale problem with no concievable solution? Get the hacker character to mash on their keys and all conflict evaporates. Persona 5 sidesteps this problem with a reasonable solution. A hacker group is after the Phantom Thieves. How do you expose them? Get another hacker on your side who can do the exact same damage they can. It makes sense. I just hope the next few palaces aren’t issues that can be solved with hacking somebody’s phone, because that would diminish the charm of the Phantom Thieve’s cognitive exploits.
Hackers in fiction need to be handled with care, and they rarely are. They usually end up having godlike powers that are either over or underutilized. They become cheap, easy solutions to wrap up messy plotlines. I hope Futaba is used properly.
5.) The OG crew lost it
Ryuji is a vulgar asshole who hits things pretty well, but in terms of planning, he isn’t very useful. He constantly argues with other party members and disrupts the peace. Ann is nice and does some dank modelling, but she is pretty airheaded and doesn’t really contribute to decision making. The main character is a sass-master who barely says anything, and Morgana is a cat that turns into a car that protests against insomnia.
I suppose this adds to the theme of every Phantom Thief being a misfit in society, but it seems every subsequent party member becomes some overpowered beast.
Rest in Peace Ryuji. The two people with questionable sexuality have assaulted you. And the game played it as a joke for you.
Oh, when the main character deals with the assault at the beginning, It’s played super seriously, but once Ryuji gets attacked it’s an XD meme.
AND WE JUST LEAVE HIM. WE LET THIS HAPPEN, AND HE COMES BACK LATER, OUT OF BREATH, IMPLYING HE HAD TO RUN. HE RAN FROM GETTING ASSAULTED.
7.) Ryuji = Ryuk
Look that that posture. Look at that body build. Look familiar?
8.) Let’s discuss Anxiety and Depression
Are you ready for me to grossly oversimplify issues plaguing a lot of people on this planet? Well, strap in, because let’s talk about crippling depression!
Depression is not the constant feeling of sadness. It is the inability to have meaningful things in your life provide you happiness. It’s the crushing feeling of inadequacy. It’s not taking a shower for 4 days because the idea of wasting water plagues your mind and you think of all the people on the planet who don’t have clean water.
In short, Depression is the inability to feel happy. Everything is tiring, and everything seems pointless. A short term remedy is to lock yourself away from everything and entertain yourself with petty interests, but that only ends up amplifying the problem in the long term.
Depression is something that cannot be beaten through sheer willpower. It takes people. It takes genuine relations. It takes certain individuals to know that you matter to them.
So why do I bring all this up? Because that’s exactly how Futaba overcomes her mental plagues. The Phantom Thieves do change her heart for the better and make her realize that her mother’s death wasn’t her fault, but Futaba also shows her own mental fortitude in overcoming her own struggle. Futaba’s treasure is revealed to be herself. Her demons came from her own perception that she was a horrible monster who was unloved by everyone, including her own parents. So knowing that the Phantom Thieves would go out of their way to help this 15-year-old girl regain her own happiness and peace of mind, is really touching, and is a far cry from the generic dungeons and scumbag villains previously seen in the game.
So, well done Persona! P$ dealt with homosexuality and trans issues in a time where that was vilified, and now you’ve gotten even more relatable with the internet lurking character being socially anxious and depressed! How modern.